In a day and age where collegiate athletics is dominated by big dollars and traditions such as rivalries are ended without a second thought, it’s refreshing to know that some schools stick to their roots a little stronger than others.
This Saturday Jacksonville State renews an old rivalry with North Alabama, that while may be cooled some from a decade off, still has a fire that burns deep in the sole of diehards in red and black or purple and white.
The Lions may their way onto JSU’s schedule just in time as a rivalry with Chattanooga seemed to have its last game for the near future last year when the Gamecocks won on a field goal as time expired.
Jax State in football may have three rivalries above the rest, and while each is unique, each is just as important. There’s the North Alabama and Chattanooga, but what everyone knows about is fierce rivalry between the Troy Trojans.
JSU holds a 31-21-1 record against Troy, however the Trojans won 12 of those 21 games during the final 14 meetings as Troy began its move into the division 1 ranks and then FBS from FCS. That transition has played a part in the rivalry being put on hold since 2001, on the gridiron at least.
This Friday night the Trojans come to Jacksonville for a soccer match, and while we can’t have football, at least other sports hold to the rivalry tradition.
Chattanooga is a true old rivalry as the Mocs were one of the five games JSU played in its inaugural year of football in 1904. The next meeting didn’t come until 1924 and lasted three straight years. Then it was reborn again when the two schools played almost annually from 1953-1983.
UTC won the meeting in 1983 and JSU had to wait two decades before returning the favor in 2004 with a 65-20 win. Since 2004 JSU went 6-2 against the Mocs.
While the North Alabama rivalry doesn’t date back to the start of JSU football, it does the start of UNA’s program. After losing the football program in the 1920s, UNA brought it back in 1949 and took on none other than Jacksonville State in their opening game. The Gamecocks won 12-7 and have since owned a 23-18-3 series lead.
While the Chattanooga rivalry may have a better history, and the Troy rivalry just simply a larger amount of hate towards the opponent, possibly none of those meetings meant as much as many of the North Alabama ones.
During the 1980s the two division II Gulf South Conference foes usually had something to do with the Conference title if not the national one.
In JSU’s final year of division II in 1992, the Gamecocks beat UNA 10-6 on the road in the regular season. The two later met in the playoffs where JSU again won 14-12.
Just three weeks later JSU beat Pittsburg State 17-13 on UNA’s home turf to win the National Championship.
With JSU out of the picture the following year, UNA went on to win three straight national titles from 1993-1995. Since those 1992 matchups the teams have only played once in 2003 when UNA upset JSU 28-16. That game is the last time a division II team beat JSU.
Coach Clark doesn’t have to say much to his team to help them understand the history, and why not to overlook the #22 ranked team in division II this Saturday night.